Saturday, February 9, 2019

Namibia stirs the soul

Nothing quite compares to sunrise on the sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
Namibia is truly a land of contrasts, as we discovered on our visit last summer. If you’ve ever wanted to go on a safari, a good place to start is in this almost unknown country on the southwest edge of Africa. Namibia’s ecological diversity is attracting more and more visitors to the country whose tourism industry is just in its infancy.
Private camps are plentiful and accommodations are very comfortable.
Yet, there are plenty of private camps willing to host visitors, and some are as luxurious as the desert will allow. Camps on private nature reserves in the bush are generally small (although individual cabins are roomy and comfortable) and can only accommodate perhaps 8-20 guests.

Airplanes take visitors where there are no roads.
That is actually fine because it’s often necessary to fly on small plane over the vast and rugged desert. A short 30-minute flight (watch out for the ostrich on the runway) might cover an area that would take eight hours to drive—if there is even a road. And nowhere will you find staff more convivial and anxious to make your stay the best ever.

Sand covering the mountains reminds you that this is desert.
This may not be a trip for everyone. But if you have a keen sense of adventure and willingness to be surprised, Namibia will fill you with wonder. Here are some of the reasons I believe this country should be on your bucket list.
We removed shoes and walked
down the steep sand dune.
--Namibia stirs the soul with the isolation and solitude in its stark desert landscape. While the ocean washes over the coastal desert, the inland plains are baked by the sun into a dull brownish landscape of dried mud and rocks.

--But then the spirit soars when viewing the towering orange-red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the south. Climb the dunes for a spectacular view of salt pans below—and walk barefoot in the soft sand that swallows your legs midway up the shin.
--Marvel at the variety of ecology and wildlife. In the million-acre Palmwag Concession, you can follow trackers as they search for the endangered desert rhinos that live there. You’ll also learn how different wildlife species have adapted to the harsh desert environment.

Rhinos are one of the "big 5" of African wildlife.
--Guided safari drives in open 4 x 4 vehicles through private reserves allow for superb wildlife encounters. You may see unusual wildlife found nowhere else in Africa, with plenty of time to observe and follow the animals without feeling rushed or crowded.
Elephants are another one of the "big 5" that safari goers want to see.
These lionesses were thirsty after dining
on the giraffe that had recently bee killed.
-- Around the Etosha Salt Pan in northern Namibia, there is enough water (along with some manmade water holes) to sustain a variety of game including feline predators, Springbok, oryx, kudu. There’s a large elephant population and plenty of opportunities to watch these magnificent behemoths interacting gently in their family groups.

Flying over spectacular and rugged mountains in Namibia
--Get a bird’s eye view of the varied topography on flights between wilderness camps. Scour landscape  to admire imposing mountains, deep canyons, and vast plateaus below.
We enjoyed a "sundowner" with refreshments as the sun descended.
Getting from place to place be a challenge, but the diversity of this complex country will surprise and thrill you. Namibia is truly awesome!

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



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